If you drive south from Kalispell and past Missoula on Hwy. 93 toward the Idaho border, you’ll come into a town living its western heritage and not afraid to flaunt it. Darby, MT is one of the most fun friendly little towns you’d ever want to be seen in.
Darby exalts in its western feel. From its Welcome Banner to its long covered walkways, the town screams old west. Unlike many would-be western communities, this one lives through its art, ranches, farms and people.
Even the library blends into the overall mountain past. Marvelous sculptures dot the town’s streets. More examples of local offerings can be found in a gift shop that could have doubled as the mercantile back in the day of early ranches and fur trappers.
Stop by in July for the annual rodeo and cheer the riders and ropers until you’re hoarse. Bull riding is a specialty around this part of the state as can be testified to by their signage. When you’ve exhausted your people skills for the moment, take a short jaunt south of town to see the valley’s natural attractions.
Many roads lead away from the highway. You don’t have to go far to see more vastness than you thought possible. Take a few photos along the way. Stop at the historical markers and learn about the area as you go. Trapper’s Peak is a must for camera buffs, but there are wildlife opportunities like deer, range cattle to watch, the occasional sheep, and sunsets to keep the finger on the camera button.
Good food is served up at various cafes and restaurants in town for those who’re in need of sustenance. Take the time, too, to acquaint yourself with the locals. They love talking about their part of the world and suggesting places of interest to you. If you like to fish, take rods and reels so that you can sample the local rivers. There’s trout and a few other native fish swimming in those streams waiting for a nice meal, too.
When you leave Darby, you’ll probably feel as we did the first time we visited the town and its immediate area. You’ll know that returning will be on your agenda in the future. It’s much like Jackson Hole in that regard but with fewer tourists and less flash.
I hope you take an opportunity to come up to the top of the world and join us in our adventures to common places with the not-so-common touch.